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How to use social media to market your practice

Social media marketing is hot hot hot. But how do you use it like the cool kids in order to market your practice?

Start at the top. The top three networking sites, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, offer opportunities for spreading the word about the practice’s offerings and expertise.

Network for business

LinkedIn, the leading business network, is nonetheless social. What’s more, because it is a business network, it easily lends itself to your business. Here are steps you can take to boost the practice’s presence.

Polish your personal profile

When reviewing your LinkedIn profile, ask yourself these questions. Does your LinkedIn profile reflect positively on the practice? Is your photo current and professional? Is your job title correct? Does your job title include the name of the practice? Does your profile summary accurately reflect your current job responsibilities, while providing an overview of the practice? Finally, does your LinkedIn profile contain any grammatical errors or misspelled words?

Connect with others

LinkedIn allows you to connect with business associates, and to gain exposure to their connections.

Who should you invite to join your network? Professionals from other practices; colleagues you’ve met through membership associations, at conferences and other educational events; workshop leaders; account executives and sales representatives with whom you do business; and others from your professional circle.

Join groups

LinkedIn groups provide you with an opportunity to interact with others in your profession, learn about the latest medical office issues, discover best practices, and more. As important, when you participate in groups, others get to know you and the practice.

Create a company page

LinkedIn offers the option of creating a company page, which can give the practice additional exposure. You can use your company page to provide an overview of services, share practice news, post job openings, and more. Almost any size organization can create a LinkedIn company page, although there are some basic requirements. For example, your practice must have a registered domain and the email address listed with your LinkedIn profile must include it; in other words, yourname@medicalpracticename.com.

Put on a professional face

Once you’ve linked in and linked up, you are ready to show your professional face on Facebook.

Here, though, you want to promote the practice, not yourself. In fact, it’s recommended that for the most part you keep your personal Facebook activity separate from the practice’s professional page.

Currently, the best way for your practice to use Facebook is by creating a fan page. If you’re familiar with Facebook, you know these are the pages that people “like.”

A Facebook page for the practice might include a brief description of what the practice offers; a photo of the building, office area or staff; location and contact information, including address and phone number; hours of operation; and a link to the practice’s website, assuming you have one.

Postings can include links to articles relevant to the practice’s area of specialization, news about changes at the practice, job listings, support the practice gives to the community or its involvement with charitable events, and more. The goal is to build a positive image, one that people can truly “like” on Facebook – and “like” offline.

Facebook also makes it incredibly easy to spread the word.

Brandon Betancourt, practice administrator at a pediatric office in the suburbs of Chicago, explains: “One of the most powerful things about the web is that content can go viral. Here is how. Let’s say your practice’s Facebook page has 100 fans; and each of those fans have 100 friends; and each of those friends also each have 100 friends. Do you see how this works? Even if your immediate circle is relatively small, your message can spread like a virus if it resonates with your community.”

Tweet your stuff

Twitter, the social networking and micro blogging site, also allows you to post news and information updates. However, Twitter postings, known as tweets, must be short – 140 characters or less. As with Facebook posts, you can link to other sites, but you will want to shrink URLs (website addresses) before you post them, using a site like TinyURL.com or bitly.

Before you decide whether to market the practice on Twitter, why not take a look at how others have tapped what it offers?

You can learn almost everything you need to know about using Twitter at business.twitter.com. Here you’ll find the basics, along with success stories and how-to examples.

Promote your social presence

Once your practice has a presence on social media, you’ll want to include the appropriate icons at your website with links to the pages.

Social media is only social if you have followers.

With this in mind, you must also keep up your social activity. This requires regular updates.

Marketing via social media requires diligence. Nevertheless, with a little dedication and some experimentation, social media can be a highly effective marketing tool.

Experiment with other sites

And speaking of experimentation, don’t rule out other websites, like SlideShare, YouTube, and yes, even, Pinterest. These and other sites also offer opportunities to market the practice.

Has someone from the practice recently presented at a conference? Is she or he willing to share the presentation on SlideShare? Was the presentation recorded? Is it appropriate for YouTube?

If you’re on Pinterest, do you mention your employer? Check with the practice first, to see if they are comfortable with you sharing information on Pinterest. If there is no objection, you might include pins of images from the practice’s website with captions about how much you enjoy your job (provided of course you do). This will promote the practice as an employer of choice and help when hiring new staff.

Although social media has come a long way in a short period of time, it is still relatively new. Because of this, it lends itself to creativity and experimentation.

As long as you have the approval of the practice, focus on your objectives, and remain professional, there are endless possibilities when it comes to using social media for marketing. So, go on, be cool. Get social.

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